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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 78 spider with a marelli distributor, with the weights and springs for advance on the top of the distributor. A year ago I installed a crane electronic ignition kit with optical sensor. I am getting some oil seepage into the distributor, and after driving for a ways on the freeway, the optical sensor get some oil on it, and the car begins to miss. I have taken the distributor out, and checked against diagrams to make sure that it is assembled correctly. It still seeps a small amount of oil. I can only assume that my distributor is worn out, possibly the felt ring is the culprit.
I am considering buying a new electronic distributor. IAP has a distributor with an adjustable advance curve for $399. Vicks has a modified Bosch distributor with a "modified" advance curve,(magnetic pickup), for $349. Centerline is out of stock, but advertises a similar distributor for $300.
1) do I need a new distributor?
2)I don't race. Anyone have experience with the above products, recommendations? (I live in California, and the distributor has to look stock to pass smog)
 

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I put an RLM electronic ignition into my 78 spider about three years ago and was shocked at the difference. The whole job took about an hour start to finish and when it was done and timed the car performed like a new machine. Where before it was reluctant to pull above 5500 it now would spin to 6200 so fast I had to watch what I was doing.It was the best thing I ever did for performance and easy starting. I have call the guys at RLM directly with a few questions and they know their stuff and build racing Alfas.
jim
 

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Wow, you have raised a lot of issues here:

- The base issue is that your old distributor passes oil up into the "points" area, and the optical sensor can't see anymore when it gets oil on its lens. A lower cost fix might be to switch to a magnetic or hall-effect sensor, rather than optical - they would be more immune to oil. Pertronix or HotSpark sell conversions, but they fit Bosch distributors. Pertronix MAY have recently introduced one for a Marelli - seems that there was some discussion of this on the BB a month or two back.

- The new distributors from IAP, Vick, and Centerline are all a bit different. The one that IAP recently began carrying is fairly sophisticated, with the advance controlled electronicly, rather than with a weights mechanism. Dunno about Vick's - does it require an external box, and if so, will this add to the cost?. As I recall, Centerline's includes the external box (Crane?) - nothing wrong with that - whether it's optical or magnetic, the new distributor shouldn't pass oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
IAP, Centerline and Vicks offer distributors that are magnetic pickup, with electronic advance, and do not have external units. I'm afraid of the RLM unit, because it is not California legal for the street, and has a box, which might cause problems at smog check time. If there is no way to seal up my original distributor, it looks like I'm stuck with buying a new one. There is a $100 price range, and I'm not sure which way to go. Does anyone have experience with the performance distributors advertised by IAP, Centerline or Vick's?
 

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Pertronix does have a cost effective electronic distributor module that drops right into a Marelli dual point dist. Both my 78 and 79 Spiders have Marelli dual points, model 166B. You can find the part number on the base of the distributor housing. Make sure to check that you have 166B, and not 145C. According to the chart the unit doesnot fit the 145C. The part number is MR-LS1. The place I found it online sells it for $81.00. Here is a link to the vendor's site: PerTronix for Alfa-Romeo. I have not upgraded either of my Spiders yet, but plan to; hiding the points under the mechanical advance was an evil engineering trick by some Italian engineer who never had to set the points in a distributor. Electronic also gives a better stronger spark as well. Unfortunately that doesn't cure your oil intrusion, but the dist will pass the emissions inspection.

-Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This afternoon, I ordered the new dist. from IAP. The oil seepage would cause a problem, and my advance mechanism springs are shot. It is a performance dist. with adjustable advance curve, and new on the market. It looks like a regular distributor, so the visual inspection aspect of the cal. smog check should not be a problem. I'll post my impressions in a week or so.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
distributor issues

In California, it is illegal to make modifications to smog controlled cars, that are used on the streets, even if the car still passes emissions testing. Some companies have submitted their products to the California Air Resources Board for testing and have been approved, and those products are ok. For example, the crane electronic ignition kit, which fits on the existing distributor is approved. When a car is smog tested in California, the operator is supposed to make a visual inspection of smog equiptment to ensure that it is hooked up, and functioning properly. You will get nailed for weber carbs, headers and other modifications. I can't remember the exact year, but somewhere around 1974 and earlier cars are smog exempt, and don't need smog checks.
 

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how about cleaning the oil vapor seperator, that is the usual culprit in pressuring up the crankcase. also, there are supposed to be o rings in the distributor to block oil passage.
cliff
 

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I am considering buying the new IAP distributor. I have a Shankle Sport Marelliplex on my spider. It makes good strong sparks and the engine will rev as high as I dare take it. The downside is the loosely controlled initial advance curve. My car will idle at about 700-800 rpm or at about 1600 rpm. It will always settle at the higher idle speed unless I slow the engine to around 1000 by staying in a higher gear as I slow down, or by almost stalling the engine. I am running Webers and CB47 cams.

I like the idea of being able to try different advance curves. But what if the electronics fail in the new distributor? I may have to junk the whole thing - expensive. The pickup, trigger, coil can all be replaced inexpensively on the 'plex.

I see that a vendor in Europe is selling the IAP distributor on ebay for $100 more than IAP.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
2 x 88 Milano Verde's
 
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